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The Purge in Pyongyang
To anyone with a remote interest in the inner workings of North Korea, the recent purge of Kim Jong Un’s perceived éminence grise Jang Song Thaek was stunning in its abrupt ferocity and in the sheer publicity that surrounded it.
Dragged from a Politburo meeting on December 8 in a staged public arrest – he is believed to have already been under detention – the 67-year-old was then excoriated in a front page editorial in a highly personal manner.
Jang committed “such acts of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices… irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life,” DPRK press reported, and whilst purges are nothing new in the isolated state, frank admissions of challenges to its leadership are.
Speculation around his removal has been rife and gone so far as to suggest Jang had been behind a plot that would have reestablished military power (waning as Party power waxes) or backed by China in a nascent palace coup.
Jang’s life has been rocky. His daughter Jang Keum-song, who lived overseas in Paris as an international student committed suicide in September 2006, after having refused to return to Pyongyang.
Married to – but estranged from - Kim Jong Un’s aunt Kim Kyong-hui, Jang held high rank until 2004, was reportedly purged and then made a remarkable comeback in March 2006, accompanying Kim Jong Il to China.
(His “dissolute” nature has been noted before in the DPRK. In 1975, then leading the “Three Revolutions, Organization and Guidance Department”, he was sacked and sent to work in a factory for allegedly presiding over an alcohol-heavy VIP party in one of Kim Jong Il’s suites.)
His recent removal has sent shockwaves through East Asia however.
China’s subsequent massive military exercises on the North Korean border have hardly lowered temperatures, with Beijing’s official military newspaper saying on Saturday that the exercises close to Mount Baekdu, unlike in previous drills, did not involve “any on-site survey or adaptation training”. The troops “will change areas of training continuously to improve their skills in real combat.”
It’s an interesting situation to watch unfold and with regard to Jang’s heavy fall from grace, the always excellent 38North has the best overview out there. Give it a read. Reading carefully through the KCNA piece on Jang’s fall, however, the very public acknowledgement that Kim’s power has been at threat (“our party will never pardon anyone challenging its leadership and infringing upon the interests of the state and people”) raises serious questions about his grip.
Below is the full text of the announcement against him, just in case it disappears as abruptly as Jang has from historic photos…
A report on the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was released on December 8.
The following is the full text of the report:
An enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK was held in Pyongyang, the capital of the revolution, on Dec. 8.
Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK, guided the meeting.
Present there were members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK.
Leading officials of the Central Committee of the WPK, provincial party committees and armed forces organs attended it as observers.
Our party members, service personnel and all other people have made energetic efforts to implement the behests of leader Kim Jong Il, entrusting their destiny entirely to Kim Jong Un and getting united close around the Central Committee of the WPK since the demise of Kim Jong Il, the greatest loss to the nation.
In this historic period for carrying forward the revolutionary cause of Juche the chance elements and alien elements who had made their ways into the party committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as expanding their forces through factional moves and daring challenge the party, while attempting to undermine the unitary leadership of the party.
In this connection, the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK convened its enlarged meeting and discussed the issue related to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by Jang Song Thaek.
The meeting, to begin with, fully laid bare the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts of Jang Song Thaek and their harmfulness and reactionary nature.
It is the immutable truth proved by the nearly 70-year-long history of the WPK that the party can preserve its revolutionary nature as the party of the leader and fulfill its historic mission only when it firmly ensures its unity and cohesion based on the monolithic idea and the unitary center of leadership.
The entire party, whole army and all people are dynamically advancing toward the final victory in the drive for the building of a thriving nation, meeting all challenges of history and resolutely foiling the desperate moves of the enemies of the revolution under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. Such situation urgently calls for consolidating as firm as a rock the single-minded unity of the party and the revolutionary ranks with Kim Jong Un as its unitary centre and more thoroughly establishing the monolithic leadership system of the party throughout the party and society.
The Jang Song Thaek group, however, committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party and disturbing the work for establishing the party unitary leadership system and perpetrated such ant-state, unpopular crimes as doing enormous harm to the efforts to build a thriving nation and improve the standard of people’s living.
Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene.
Though he held responsible posts of the party and state thanks to the deep political trust of the party and leader, he committed such perfidious acts as shunning and obstructing in every way the work for holding President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in high esteem for all ages, behaving against the elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience as a human being.
Jang desperately worked to form a faction within the party by creating illusion about him and winning those weak in faith and flatterers to his side.
Prompted by his politically-motivated ambition, he tried to increase his force and build his base for realizing it by implanting those who had been punished for their serious wrongs in the past period into ranks of officials of departments of the party central committee and units under them.
Jang and his followers did not sincerely accept the line and policies of the party, the organizational will of the WPK, but deliberately neglected their implementation, distorted them and openly played down the policies of the party. In the end, they made no scruple of perpetrating such counter-revolutionary acts as disobeying the order issued by the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.
The Jang group weakened the party’s guidance over judicial, prosecution and people’s security bodies, bringing very harmful consequences to the work for protecting the social system, policies and people.
Such acts are nothing but counter-revolutionary, unpopular criminal acts of giving up the class struggle and paralyzing the function of popular democratic dictatorship, yielding to the offensive of the hostile forces to stifle the DPRK.
Jang seriously obstructed the nation’s economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people’s living in violation of the pivot-to-the-Cabinet principle and the Cabinet responsibility principle laid down by the WPK.
The Jang group put under its control the fields and units which play an important role in the nation’s economic development and the improvement of people’s living in a crafty manner, making it impossible for the economic guidance organs including the Cabinet to perform their roles.
By throwing the state financial management system into confusion and committing such act of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices, the group made it impossible to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on developing the industries of Juche iron, Juche fertilizer and Juche vinalon.
Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life.
By abusing his power, he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants.
Ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going, he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party.
Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination and they did tremendous harm to our party and revolution.
The ungrateful criminal acts perpetrated by the group of Jang Song Thaek are lashing our party members, service personnel of the People’s Army and people into great fury as it committed such crimes before they observed two-year mourning for Kim Jong Il, eternal general secretary of the WPK.
Speeches were made at the enlarged meeting.
Speakers bitterly criticized in unison the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by the Jang group and expressed their firm resolution to remain true to the idea and leadership of Kim Jong Un and devotedly defend the Party Central Committee politically and ideologically and with lives.
The meeting adopted a decision of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on relieving Jang of all posts, depriving him of all titles and expelling him and removing his name from the WPK.
The party served warning to Jang several times and dealt blows at him, watching his group’s anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as it has been aware of them from long ago. But it did not pay heed to it but went beyond tolerance limit. That was why the party eliminated Jang and purged his group, unable to remain an onlooker to its acts any longer, dealing telling blows at sectarian acts manifested within the party.
Our party will never pardon anyone challenging its leadership and infringing upon the interests of the state and people in violation of the principle of the revolution, regardless of his or her position and merits.
No matter how mischievously a tiny handful of anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional elements may work, they can never shake the revolutionary faith of all party members, service personnel and people holding Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the unitary centre of unity and unitary centre of leadership.
The discovery and purge of the Jang group, a modern day faction and undesirable elements who happened to worm their ways into our party ranks, made our party and revolutionary ranks purer and helped consolidate our single-minded unity remarkably and advance more dynamically the revolutionary cause of Juche along the road of victory.
No force on earth can deter our party, army and people from dynamically advancing toward a final victory, single-mindedly united around Kim Jong Un under the uplifted banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism. - KNS